Like a lot of other people, I am the product of a single mother. I always respected my mother, imperfect as she may be, because I knew she worked hard for us. I was very aware at a much younger age than most people might have been before learning about money, and the value of it. I watched my mom for years sacrifice for me and my brother, and let's be real, that is what being a parent is. Especially being a mother.
While I always knew and was aware of what my mom was going through, I never respected her more than when I had my own children. I am blessed to have a strong relationship, with a good man, who is a good father. Truthfully I think it's a bit ridiculous our society has strayed so far that I have to say I am lucky that he is a parent to our children. My father not ever wanting to be in my life though never felt like a bad thing to me, until I had my own kids. I never thought that I would end up being a stay at home mom, a homemaker, a housewife, whatever it is you want to call it, I always knew it wasn't for me. Until... it was. I know now that I didn't grasp just how hard this job is, like many others I assumed wow, you get to play with babies and just sit around all day! How nice that must be right? Well, I'm sure it would be nice! If it were true.
The harsh reality is that all women, especially mothers, carry a mental load that is not understandable or even comprehensible to anyone unless they've also lived it. The burden of being a stay at home mom for me is just guilt. Budgeting, planning, detailing, doing doing doing, everything down to the very last detail. Never feeling like I'm doing enough for the kids if I'm not cleaning, never feeling like I'm doing enough for the house if I'm just playing race-cars. This is an overwhelming life that jumping into headfirst will wear you down. I am "on" all the time. At any given moment, you have to understand guys that your wife, the mother of your kids that you work so hard for, works hard for you too. Remembering to appreciate her once in a while will benefit your entire household, because just like you get up work every day, so does she.
I think the best conversation my husband and I ever had was one born out of frustration from me. I was fed up, I was crying, and I'd had enough of my thankless job. When most people do a good job at work they at least get that figurative pat on the back right? Attaboy! Good job! Well, stay at home moms, we don't get any of that. The small dictators, (which I lovingly call my children) that run our lives sure don't thank us for anything. They won't, until and unless they have their own babies running around one day. I told my husband through my tear streaked face one day, I just wanted to give up. No one cares what I do. I do everything all the time but it is never, never enough. I was under-appreciated, overworked, and just sad. A lot of people don't talk about this dark side of motherhood, about how they really feel, but until we open those floodgates and let the river flow, nothing will change. A friend of mine just mentioned to me the other day a lot of his friends say their wives suffer from depression. Let's break down that wall. As silly as it may sound, my husband comes home, we get whatever needs to be done with the kids taken care of, and he takes time to say "Wow babe! I can tell you vacuumed our floors today! This looks great!"
Try it sometime. I promise it will make her smile.
"I love it when you make this for dinner."
"I'm proud of you for getting all our kids in bed alone tonight."
"The kitchen looks great."
"Did you wash my towel? Thanks!"
"I can tell that you swept the floors today, they look great."
Take time out of your life to find something, every day, to just tell her she did a good job on. Even if you think you're silly for saying it. Even if she thinks you're silly at first for it too. Say it. Say it again. Mean it. Be proud of her, and for the love of all, just take over sometimes men. Tell her to scoot on over and let you finish those dishes.